Japan Picks New Foreign Minister

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Days after Japan's foreign minister resigned, a replacement has been named and sworn in. The former minister left his post after admitting taking thousands of dollars in donations from a Korean couple to influence Japanese foreign policy.

On Wednesday, embattled Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan named a junior cabinet minister to be the country's next foreign minister. It comes after his top diplomat abruptly quit, handing him a long list of challenges including managing strained ties with China and keeping relations with ally Washington on an even keel.

State foreign secretary Takeaki Matsumoto was officially confirmed by the Emperor as successor to pro-U.S. security hawk Seiji Maehara, who quit on Sunday after admitting he had taken about $3,000 in donations from a Korean national.

[Yukio Edano, Chief Cabinet Secretary]:
"The prime minister made the decision based on his (Matsumoto's) abilities and knowledge, as well as on his consistency in diplomacy -- the fact that he has been involved in some important matters as state foreign secretary."

The successor will have to hit the ground running, and attend a Group of Eight ministerial meeting in Paris next week, and a trilateral meeting with his counterparts from China and South Korea later this month.

Matsumoto, a graduate of the prestigious University of Tokyo faculty of law and a former banker, was a policy chief in the DPJ, when it was still an opposition party.

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